Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas celebration: Your ‘fall and die’ approach not biblical – Anglican Bishop blasts Olukoya

From Nigeria-

The last is yet to be heard of the controversial comment credited to the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, MFM, Pastor Daniel Olukoya, following his description of Christmas celebration as unbiblical.

The latest to react to the comment was the Bishop of the Diocese of Owo Anglican Communion, Rt Revd Stephen Fagbemi, who stated that Olukoya lacked in-depth knowledge of the bible.

According to Bishop Fagbemi, he emphasized that most of the doctrines being observed at MFM and other pentecostal churches do not have biblical backing, adding that “How many things he is doing today are directly traceable to or instructed in the Bible? Is it the fall and die approach to prayer or which one?”
His words, “I had wanted to respond to Dr. Olukoya of MFM on his display of theological and ecclesiastical ignorance until I read Fr Oluoma’s rejoinder, which I believe to be sound all round. Mine could be seen as an addendum to his well-crafted analysis and response.

More here-

A silent worship revival at an Episcopal church for the deaf

From The AP-

The Lord’s Prayer ended with the bang of dozens of fists that landed on open palms after a circular motion and a thumbs up in a joint “Amen!” 

Not a voice could be heard inside the cavernous sanctuary of Holyrood Episcopal Church-Iglesia Santa Cruz in Manhattan. There was no need for words: From the altar, the deaf congregants led the hearing ones, who from the wooden pews repeated the silent movement of their hands. 

Music, sermons, prayers, even confessions make up much of the experience of a typical religious service. So, for the deaf, how does faith flourish in an environment that so revolves around sound?

More here-

Friday, December 27, 2019

Why did Trump ditch his church in Palm Beach on Christmas Eve for evangelical service?

From USA Today-

On Christmas Eve, six days after a prominent evangelical magazine published a blistering editorial calling for President Donald Trump to be removed from office, the president and first lady ditched services at the liberal church in Palm Beach where they were married and headed to a conservative Baptist-affiliated church in West Palm Beach.

Whether the president’s decision to change the venue and denomination of his long-standing Christmas Eve tradition was tied to the editorial is not known. A White House press officer referred questions to the Florida GOP press liaison, who referred questions back to the White House.

It was the second effort Trump has made to court evangelical voters since he arrived at Mar-a-Lago on Friday — the same day his re-election campaign announced that he would go to Miami on Jan. 3 to launch an “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition.

It is unlikely that the first-couple’s absence from Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach and a surprise appearance at Family Church Downtown gained or lost the president votes among either congregation. Officials at both churches could not be reached for comment on the holiday.

More here-

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Pope and Anglican Archbishop Join in Urgent Appeal to South Sudan

From South Sudan-

An Christmas Day appeal for peace addressed to leaders in South Sudan has been issued by Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Communion, joined by the Rev. John Chalmers, former moderator of the Church of Scotland.

"In this Christmas season and at the beginning of a new year, we wish to extend to you and to all the people of South Sudan our best wishes for your peace and prosperity, and to assure you of our spiritual closeness as you strive for a swift implementation of the Peace Agreements," the leaders said.

"We raise our prayers to Christ the Saviour for a renewed commitment to the path of reconciliation and fraternity, and we invoke abundant blessings upon each of you and upon the entire nation. May the Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, enlighten you and guide your steps in the way of goodness and truth, and bring to fulfilment our desire to visit your beloved country."

More here- 

and here-

and here-

Epsicopalians and Christmas

From Earth and Altar-

Christmas is a time to have fun (note: Christmas is a time to have fun; I’ll be gravely disappointed if you’re having any fun before December 24th)! And luckily the folks over at Christianity Today have given us some suggestions for how to have that fun. Unfortunately, some of these suggestions just don’t quite work with the culture and lived realities of a lot of Episcopal Churches. But never fear! We’re here to tell you how, with just a little creativity, they can be modified to allow for a fun Christmastide, even for Episcopalians!
Get your friends together to string popcorn and cranberries while watching animated kids' classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
For Episcopalians: Classic Christmas movies are fine I guess, but wouldn’t it be much more fun to get together and listen to recordings of NPR’s coverage of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, especially during the years when Rowan was still our Archbishop?
More here-

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Generation Gap Over Church at Christmas

From The Wall Street Journal-

Christmas is a religious holiday and a family one, too, and that’s where things can get complicated.
All six members of the Schultz family used to go to Christmas Eve church services. Now only two—Valerie, the mom, and her oldest daughter, Morgan—attend.

“Our tradition from when the girls were little has gone right out the window,” says Ms. Schultz, 62, who lives in Lancaster, Calif. Her three other adult daughters no longer go to church. Neither does her husband, Randy.

It’s the same for many other families. A recent Pew Research Center study found that about half of baby boomers attend religious services at least once a month, while more than 40% of millennials seldom or never attend. “Millennials attend religious services at far lower rates than older people,” says Gregory Smith, who heads Pew’s domestic religion research team. “The generation gap we see in the ways Americans approach religion is both statistically and substantially significant.”

More here-

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Episcopal Mission of Franklin enjoying a rebirth

From New Hampshire-

Standing in the sanctuary at the Episcopal Mission of Franklin, the Rev. Kate Harmon Siberine recounts how a few months ago the building had been closed -- doors locked, cold and empty.

But like the city it calls home, the church is enjoying a rebirth and has again become a place for people to gather, worship and foster a Christian community.
“This building has always been about feeding people -- body and spirit,” said Pastor Siberine.
Originally known as Saint Jude’s Episcopal Church, it experienced the same trajectory of decline as Franklin, following the closure of the paper and wool mills that were once the mainstay of the local economy.
A stained-glass window of Saint Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, has watched faithfully over the altar since the church was built in the nineteenth century, Harmon Siberine explained. And over her shoulder -- looking from the back window -- is the second saint of the local mission, Saint Tabitha.

More here-

Slaves felt kinship with the shepherds, the first to hear the news of Christ’s birth

From Dallas-

The Christmas spirituals of the enslaved people of the American South are among their greatest creations. The unknown poets powerfully identified with the refugees and castaways of the Christmas narratives. They recognized their own plight in the journey of the Holy Family; they understood what it was like to be hated, scorned and mocked. Like them, Mary, Joseph and Jesus were powerless, hunted and hounded by the absolute rulers of the land, forced to hide in tents and stables and caves.

And the slaves felt a deep kinship with the shepherds, the lowest of the low in society, the untouchables, consigned to society’s distant edges. Both spent much of their lives outside, under the stars, keenly aware of the great cosmic mandala of light that swept across the horizon against the endless black skies during the never-ending nights.

That’s why “Rise Up Shepherds and Follow” is still so evocative today.

More here-

Monday, December 23, 2019

New Zealand’s iconic cathedral will finally be rebuilt

From New Zealand-

Next year marks 9 years since an earthquake devastated the quaint cityscape of New Zealand’s Christchurch with its splendid cathedral.

Christchurch, the biggest city on New Zealand’s South Island, was already rebuilding from a previous earthquake when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck during the lunch hour on Feb. 22, 2011.
Not only was Christ Church Cathedral, seat of the Anglican bishop of Christchurch, partly ruined, but much of the downtown was destroyed or left uninhabitable. Even more tragic were the deaths of 185 people.

A temporary replacement designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and constructed out of cardboard — yes, cardboard — was erected in the aftermath as a debate ensued over whether Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Victorian-era cathedral should be rebuilt. The debate turned heated with litigation and interventions from politicians and historic preservationists.

More here-

Albury Anglican priest suggests Church may need to divorce as he pushes for LGBTQI+ equality

From Australia-

A regional priest has questioned whether it Is time for the Anglican Church to split, as the debate on the Religious Freedom Bill leaves some of his parishioners feeling anxious over the Christmas period.

The picturesque Saint Matthew's Church, which lies in tranquil gardens in the heart of Albury, has become a battleground over the identity of the Anglican Church's future.

The push for the Church to become more progressive has become such a personal fight for local priest Father Peter MacLeod-Miller that he has now removed his clerical collar as he campaigns for equality of LGBTQI+ parishioners.

"It's such a bad brand," Father Macleod-Miller said.

"It's a bit like you walk down the street and people associate you with bad things.

More here-

Then Again: The well-known carol ‘We Three Kings’ was composed by a Vermonter

From Vermont-

The words are so familiar that it is hard to imagine a time before they were grouped together into that well-known phrase: “We three kings of Orient are.”

Even a century ago many people erroneously assumed the song of that name was an ancient work. Members of the Episcopal Church, who should have known better, often labeled the song as being of primeval origin, the name of its creator lost to history. 

In reality, the song is much newer than many in the hymnal. It is the work of John Henry Hopkins Jr. Huge swaths of the English-speaking world know his song, while the people of his church, and of his home state, have largely forgotten his name.

When a John Henry Hopkins is remembered in Vermont, it is invariable his father that people recall. That’s perhaps understandable. Hopkins Sr. had an outsized personality, innumerable gifts (ranging from music to writing to architecture), and a prestigious job – Episcopalian bishop of Vermont. But Hopkins Sr., a native of Ireland, also held some beliefs that have not aged well. The elder Hopkins was vehemently anti-Catholic — he wrote a screed in 1834 about Catholicism entitled “Primitive Creed.” He was also pro-slavery, citing scripture to argue that blacks were inferior to whites. 

More here-

and oddly enough here-

Nearly 200 evangelical leaders condemned Christianity Today editorial on Trump

From Fox-

Nearly 200 evangelical leaders condemned Christianity Today's editorial calling for the removal of President Trump, which “offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations," they wrote to the magazine's president.

Christianity Today, one of the nation's top Christian magazine publications called for the removal of Trump on Thursday, one day after the House of Representatives passed two articles of impeachment against him.

The letter to Timothy Dalrymple, the president of the magazine, also condemned the editorial for dismissing evangelicals who oppose its views as "far-right," the Christian Post reported.

More here-

Sunday, December 22, 2019

‘We all face adversity': Baltimore County homeless who have died are remembered on longest night of the year

From Baltimore-

Candles flickered in the dark outside the Baltimore County courthouse after the sun went down Saturday, the beginning of the longest night of the year.

“God, open our eyes to see, and our hearts to care,” the group assembled there prayed aloud.

They were there to remember the 42 people who died in the county this year while homeless. Earlier, the group had gathered at Trinity Episcopal Church on Allegheny Avenue for a service in their honor.

The remembrance was part of the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, held annually on the first day of winter in communities across the country.

More here-